February 9, 2015 | Article | Design, Search Engine Optimization
8 Tips for Creating Your Own Website
You've probably seen the ads: 'Set up your website for free! No coding!' With such low barriers to entry and more plug-and-play design platforms, why not create your own website?
While it seems like an easy and affordable solution, using a DIY website platform won't necessarily be your organization's silver bullet solution. With millions of brands competing for users' clicks and dollars, it's important to incorporate best practices that increase your site's visibility and usability.
So, if you're wading into the waters of DIY website building, here are eight essential tips to help you swim instead of sink:
- Start with architecture. Organize your pages and content based on your audience's needs - not how your organization is structured. Think about why a customer would visit your site and what you want them to do once they arrive.
Tip: Try the three-click rule. That is, can a visitor get anywhere on your site in three clicks without using the back button? This will help you refine your navigation and content.
- Design wisely. Design quality can make or break your credibility. If you're using a template, choose something that represents your brand and makes it easy for visitors to accomplish the intended goal.
- Be mobile-friendly. An estimated 60 percent of internet access comes from mobile - and those users expect to access the same information and accomplish the same tasks as desktop users. Don't make visitors pinch and zoom to find what they need - or they may leave your site and try someone else's. Check out what customers are doing globally on their devices with a very cool customizable map from Google.
- Consider your content. Web content is different than print - users scan rather than read word for word. Grab your visitor with easy-to-scan paragraphs, headers, lists and images. And pay attention to tone and language - make sure it reflects your brand and avoids meaningless jargon.
Tip: Visit Copyblogger's Copywriting 101 resources to create impactful copy.
- Clarify your call to action. Want users to do something? Tell them! Make your call to action (e.g. donate, contact us, buy now, sign up) clear and consistent throughout your site, using buttons and text.
- Link with care. Links point users to useful content - and help your site build organic search power. When embedding links, use descriptive link text (e.g. 'View the events calendar' versus 'Click here to see the events calendar.') When linking to external websites, we recommend linking only to reputable sources and setting links to open in a new tab.
- Get social. Social sites like Facebook and Twitter can help promote your site and your brand. But it takes more than adding icons to your website. Use your social profiles to share useful content from your website (and others in your industry). And remember - social media is social, so be sure to listen to and engage with your followers, too.
- Solicit feedback. Unlike novels, websites are never finished. Share your website with partners, friends and colleagues and request feedback. If they have questions or report that something is broken, be willing to make structural or content changes.
Work these tips into your new website for a solid base upon which to build out your brand's digital presence. If you have already implemented these tips and are now looking for next steps, or want to become a front-runner in your industry, feel free to reach out. Here at REQ, we believe websites are more than just flashy business cards - they're part of the digital ecosystem that feeds your business. We're always here to discuss strategy with brands of all sizes and budgets.